I would like to think things had changed from when I first wrote this quite a few years ago. Judging by the accusations still thrown our way I sometimes wonder!
As home educators you get accused of a lot of things:
– You get accused of tying your children to your apron strings and being unable to let them go.
– You get accused of narrowing their education to the confines of your home.
– You get accused of wanting to molly coddle them instead of allowing them to acclimatize to the rough and tumble of the ‘real’ world.
– You get accused of both wanting to academically cram your children and the opposite of totally neglecting their education.
– You get accused of being weird and alternative.
– And the worst thing of all; you get accused of being a parent who does not care about education since you don’t send your child to school.
What is so galling about these accusations is that firstly, in the case of most home educating families, the exact opposites are true. And secondly they are usually made by people who have no first hand experience of home education and who speak in complete ignorance! Often in fear.
Far from tying the kids to their apron strings most home educating parents are giving their children an opportunity to be out in the ‘real’ world. The real ‘real’ world that is, not the artificial world of school.
Far from narrowing their education, home education extends the child’s experiences far beyond the home and the world becomes their learning environment, gaining them an understanding of how the world works and how they fit into it beyond the classroom. Home educated children are exposed to a wide range of people and a wide range of social experiences over and above the limits and unnatural clustering of school ones.
As for academically cramming or neglecting their education; most home educating families strive to achieve a far better balance in their educational provision than that which a child would normally achieve within the restrictions of the national curriculum. A balance between first hand learning and study, a balance between passive learning and active engagement, a balance between physical activities, arts, sciences, field trips, experimentation, personal development, independent learning, investigation, creative innovation, intellectual stimulation and a social diversity which extends way beyond that which they would receive going to the same school with the same bunch of people, day after day, year after year.
Far from being molly coddled most home educating families give their child some say in the educational process, unlike their educationally spoon-fed contemporaries in school, thus building essential skills needed for independence.
And far from being weird and alternative we are actually very ordinary parents who want the same simple things every parent wants for their children; their health and happiness, continued development and achievement, and realisation of their individual potential.
And finally, far from being neglectful of their education, we are totally and one hundred percent committed to it. Why else would any parent take such a mammoth step?
Things have changed a bit – there are thousands more families accepting home schooling for the workable option it is.
But I still hunger to open closed minds. To invite people to do a little personal learning, step beyond their normal conditioned responses and seek to understand that there are many, many approaches to education that are as equally successful as the one they are used to through school. And to grow a little tolerance and compassion towards those people who would make different choices to their own.
Please pass it on!